Monday 12 July 2010

Goodbye World Cup 2010

The World Cup is finally over!

I have that slightly sad feeling, like the one you have after having a great holiday and you know it's time to return home back to normal life.

You sort of want to come home, but you know it's going to take a while before you get back into the old routine. At the moment I can't even get excited about the prospect of a new Premier League season. It all seems so dull and mundane.

I've really enjoyed this World Cup, the first one in Africa has I'm really proud that they put on such a great tournament.

It's time for me to look back and pick out my highlights, low points and all round general thoughts.

How does this World Cup compare to previous ones?

This has been one of my favourite World Cups, certainly the best since France 98. I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

I know others have disagreed and said it wasn't a classic, but what are they comparing it to? Is it a poor because it's not as good as Mexico 1970? I'm sorry but no World Cup is ever going to compare to that one.

The World Cups from 1970 to 1982 all seem iconic in there own individual ways from the clips I've seen, but I never saw those live.

Mexico 86 is personally my favourite World Cup. Probably because it was the first one I watched, but there were some great games and performances, and nobody can forget the individual brilliance of Diego Maradona.

Admittedly this World Cup got off to a very slow start with not many goals scored, but things certainly improved as we moved out of the group stages and into the knockout phases.

When you've got 32 teams starting the competition off I think the standard is going to suffer as a result, and we saw this with some pretty poor games to begin with. I suppose it's the price you pay for having so many competing nations, but that's what makes the World Cup so great.

What I've really enjoyed and appreciated has been the tactical side of the matches. Football is becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of the team formations (4-2-3-1 appears the way forward) tactics, and coaching.

You can argue that many games haven't been end to end goal fests, but I found many matches really intriguing and absorbing to watch.

The stand out games were probably Germany's victories over England and Argentina. It's unusual to see one major footballing nation completely outplay another at World Cup finals.

Although it's becoming debatable whether England can still be considered to be a major footballing force.

Team of the tournament

It obviously has to be Spain, the best team in the world won the tournament I don't think there will be too many complaints from anyone.

Some great players, working together to produce a superb footballing side. There were some great emotional scenes from last night's final. The scene of Iker Casillas breaking down in tears of joy at the final whistle will stay with me for years.

Player of the tournament

Diego Forlan

Man Utd fans still occasionally sing:

'Diego ooohhh!, Diego ooohhh!...He came from Uruguay....he made the Scousers cry'

This in recognition of his goal scoring record against Liverpool during his time at Utd and more recently with Athletico Madrid.

Well he didn't make any Scousers cry, but he's been excellent in this World Cup. I'm glad to see his efforts were recognised with him winning the player of the tournament award.

He's been at the heart of everything good that Uruguay have done. Almost single handedly taking an unfashionable team to the World Cup Semi Final.

Best team performance

Germany's 4 - 0 destruction of Argentina in the Quarter final. A brutal defeat for Maradona and Argentina to take.

Germany have been great. A team of unknowns at the start of the tournament but they've introduced the world to some really exciting and talented young players.

Worst Team performance

France's entire World Cup campaign?

England against Algeria?

All pretty bad, but I'm actually going to go for Brazil losing to Holland in the Quarter finals. Who can explain the emotional breakdown the Brazilians suffered after Holland equalised.

Totally baffling!

The Team has been more important than the individual

This World Cup was all about collective efforts of the team above the star individual. None of the world's great footballing stars really imposed themselves on the tournament.

The most successful teams like Spain and Germany and to a lesser extent the likes of Uruguay and Ghana had no star players as such, no egos, or individuals who stood head and shoulders above everyone else.

The players worked together for the greater good of the team. It's seems unlikely we'll see the likes of a Maradona figure who can inspire an entire team to World Cup glory for sometime.

Biggest disappointments

What happened to all those footballing superstars that were going to light up the tournament?

Wayne Rooney was first and foremost the biggest disappointment but you can also include the likes of Ronaldo, Kaka, and Drogba.

Players like Torres was clearly unfit and to a lesser extent Lionel Messi only showed glimpses of the player we see for Barcelona.

World Cups used to turn unknown players into superstars but not anymore. Players make their names in the Champions League and their domestic leagues. The big stars come into tournaments with such a huge amount of hype and expectation that we never used to see.

This only makes the disappointment greater when we realise these players are either tired, unfit or that playing for their national sides doesn't allow them the opportunity to shine in the way the do for their clubs.

Best/Favourite goal

This is a tough one, I'll list my three favourites:

Carlos Tevez second goal for Argentina against Mexico

A Brilliant strike!

Siphiwe Tshabalala for South Africa against Mexico

The first goal of the World Cup, a great finish and an even better celebration. A beautiful moment!

Fabio Quagliarella for Italy against Slovakia

With 20 minutes to go and heading out of the World Cup, Italy finally decided to start playing some football. This was a brilliant chip from outside the box which had a bitter sweet quality to it as it still couldn't stop Italy going out.

Most dramatic ending to a match

Easy - Has to be Ghana v Uruaguay.

If it wasn't for those dastardly Uruguayans, ruining the script and spoiling Africa's party Ghana would have made it to the Semi finals!

That's what some parts of the media would have you believe. I never fell that to be honest. Ghana were unlucky, but Asamoah Gyan could still have sent them through had he scored his penalty.

Most Embarrassing moment

Frank Lampard's goal that never was. How long are FIFA going to act like Luddites and refuse to introduce video technology?

The Vuvuzela

I'm a fan! The Vuvuzela was the sound of the World Cup! I don't think I want to hear it in the Premier League, but it gave this World Cup a unique vibe.

Most annoying thing

The media's slightly patronising attitude towards Africa staging its first World Cup. Constantly going on about how wonderful it would be for an African side to do well. All great sentiments, but on occasions it just went a bit too far.

It reached its worst point during ITV's coverage of Ghana's Quarter final match against Uruguay. Embarrassingly biased towards Ghana!

World Cup villian

Mark Van Bommell - How did he not get sent off during this World Cup? He rampaged around the midfield kicking anything that moved, with or without the ball!

Best TV pundit

Loved Jurgen Klinnsman on the BBC, intelligent and insightful analysis.

The biggest underachievers

Now that Spain are both European and World Champions, England stand alone as the biggest underachievers in world football.

It's unlikely that we're going to win anything soon unless major changes are made to the structure of English football.

What needs to change?

  • A winter break must be introduced so that players are less tired.

  • A reduction of foreign players in the Premier League (Uefa want to introduce 6 plus 5 rule. 6 home grown players and 5 foreigners in each team.)This should make a difference.

  • Better youth coaching - We need to produce more intelligent technical players.

  • Finally better qualified coaching: here are the figures for the number of coaches with Uefa's top coaching qualification.

  • Germany 34,970, Italy 29,420, Spain 23,995, France 17,588 In England we have 2,769 (figures from the Sunday Times)

  • You do the math.

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